AP: Legislation to amend Land Reforms Act

Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Government on Tuesday enacted a legislation to further amend the Andhra Pradesh Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973, amid objections raised by opposition parties and overruling the demand that it be referred to a select committee of the House.

The amended legislation is aimed at "improving the conditions of the poor agriculturists and curbing the concentration of land in the hands of a few people by taking over the ceiling surplus land and distributing the same among the landless poor," the government claimed.

The opposition parties, however, argued that the amended law would lead to rise in corruption besides leaving scope for misuse of the Land Reforms Act.

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen was the most vociferous in its opposition to the "arbitrary and draconian" legislation.

"This law will open a Pandora's box and let corruption grow," senior MIM MLA Virasat Rasool Khan said.

TDP legislator Palle Raghunatha Reddy said the existing Land Reforms Act did not ensure any tangible benefits to the landless poor.

Lok Satta Party member N Jayaprakash Narayan said the new legislation was in principle good but the danger lay in entrusting unbridled powers to the officials, leaving scope for misuse.

There should be a two-stage process to check misuse of the law and avoid unnecessary litigation, he said.

The legislators also took a strong exception to the suo moto powers to re-open even old cases of land ceiling.

The CPI and the CPM MLA too, while welcoming the legislation per se, expressed apprehension that there could be a scope for its misuse.